By: Katie Sonnefeldt
One of the greatest opportunities that UW- Madison has given me is the opportunity to travel. Being able to completely immerse myself in a culture is my favorite way to learn. I have traveled abroad before in high school and with my parents, but being courageous enough to explore a new country in college was a new way for me to take advantage of my independence and freedom.
As a Biology and Life Sciences Communication major, with a certificate in Global Health, I am constantly busy trying to fit all of my classes into four short years. I was worried at first that I would be too busy to go abroad or that the courses offered abroad wouldn’t count towards my majors. However, I was so glad to find out that CALS offers a variety of experiences abroad that didn’t require me to be gone for an entire semester.
Because I wanted to get credit for going abroad, I decided to meet with my Global Health advisor to see what I could do. Together we discussed international internships, summer programs offered through UW, and even how I could go about creating my own global health internship. These programs ranged from 1 week to several months, in places from Kenya and South Africa, to Nepal, and even as close to home as New York City. In reality my options were endless, but my counselor guided me through the hundreds of resources that were available until I found the right fit.
After exploring my options, I decided to apply for, and was accepted to a two-week field experience to Sri Lanka that was offered through the Global Health Certificate Program. In these two weeks my group learned about community health from several healthcare leaders in Sri Lanka. We were also able to work with a village on a project to cleanup the preschool and build a kitchen so that the children could have access to sanitary food. This program was perfect for me because I was always busy visiting Buddhist temples, trying new foods, or feeding elephants. But there was always enough time for a tea break, and why not- tea is what Sri Lanka (formerly called Ceylon) is known for!
Thanks to CALS and my advisors, I was able to take part in this adventure of a lifetime. There are so many resources available to students who want to go abroad, including financial assistance; all you have to do it look for it!
So I challenge you to create your own adventure, I promise, you won’t regret it!